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#2 on Larry Edwards’s list of common errors: #2. Apostrophic Calamity: Apostrophe vs. Dumb Quotes

Polishing Your Prose

From the Editor’s Eye
The 10 Most Common Errors Made by Writers
(And How to Fix Them)

The ninth of a ten-part series.

#2. Apostrophic Calamity: Apostrophe vs. Dumb Quotes

More from the Ripping Out One’s Hair Department: The oft-abused, disrespected apostrophe.

I implore you: Please, do NOT use a single quotation mark in place of an apostrophe. It is NOT the same thing. And, please, do NOT insert an apostrophe in a plural noun; the apostrophe in that context means possession or ownership, not plurality.

apostrophe_vs_quotation2Here’s the deal: Punctuation marks are to readers as road signs are to drivers. The yield sign and stop sign mean very different things. (Yes, I’m well aware that these days most drivers seem to treat stop signs as yield signs—or for target practice—but that’s another matter.)

An apostrophe serves two functions: It can indicate that characters in a word have been left…

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